“Hi David – It’s good to hear from you and of the completion of your latest book. After checking with my bosses I’m going to have to decline your request. They don’t want me, or anyone else in the firm, endorsing others products including books. Best wishes on the release.”

That’s an email that you don’t expect to receive. As many of you know, I’ve been working on the release of my 4th commercial book, Return on Impact – Leadership Strategies for the Age of Connected Relationships (ASAE, 2012). As it’s customary, I’ve reached out to a dozen or so current and past clients with key insights about the book and have asked them for endorsements / testimonials of our work together. Here are just two kind ones:

“In Relationship Economics, David Nour articulated the strategic value of business relationships. In Return on Impact, he forces the reader to question what value they are really adding and how to measure the impact of social as a business enabler on those strategic relationships.” – Randy Seidl, SVP & GM Americas – Hewlett-Packard Enterprise Servers, Storage, & Networking

“David Nour spoke to our leadership and board and without question, they chose to think and lead differently than our industry counterparts shortly after his session. If you’re trying to help your organization get beyond reactive social media, Return On Impact is your roadmap to a more strategic approach to social.” – Barbara Springer, General Counsel & Vice President Administration – Delta Dental of Colorado

But the one at the top of this post, really disappointed me because I pride myself in my work and the impact I try to create for my clients. So I start thinking about how or why had my “equity” declined from being “one of the best speakers we’ve ever had,” and “well done” by a senior executives after a consulting engagement to the comment above?

Here are some predictions that I hope you can apply in your relationships moving forward:

1. Relationship Currency® is like cash – it has immediate value; people will remember your impact from last week; they may or may not remember your efforts from 2 years ago! In hindsight, my boat to ask for a testimonial or an endorsement from this client, sailed long ago!
2. Reputation Capital® is relative – even a great house on a bad street will have a hard time selling; one strong impact can easily be negated by other misperceptions, competing priorities, or much more visible impact from other individuals or initiatives. Think of how close you were to your next door neighbors, until they moved! Because the context of the relationship changed, the fact that they lent you every tool you ever needed, turned off the alarm at your house when you were traveling, or babysat your kids is no longer relevant or a priority.
3. Some lessons are expensive and detrimental to the relationship – with this particular client, I made a comment to one of their partners, which in hindsight, I regret and it created a mountain from a mole hill. I don’t think I ever recovered from that as evident by the comment above. We all say and do things that we regret later. That’s what makes us human. You have to learn from those lessons and grow through them in your professional relationship development maturity.

Finally, your Professional Net Worth® is developed over the years and through countless relationship currency exchanges and the accumulation of your reputation capital. If you build an over abundance of relationship assets, they will negate the relationship liabilities we tend to create, regardless of how unintentional they may be. So although it’s human to want to be liked, I’m learning that it may be more valuable in the long run to be respected. And nothing creates and protects respect more than performance, execution and results.

As we approach the Thanksgiving Holidays, my goal and prayer for 2012 is that the good Lord keeps me humble, focused, willing and able to make promises I can keep, remain a student of business relationships, and continue to add value to those I’m lucky enough to meet. The rest, I’m not sure I can control.

How is your reputation capital and how do you know?

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